Consumers see virtual worlds as places of inclusion and belonging when compared to their real lives. A recent McKinsey report found that advertising spend in the metaverse will hit between $144 billion and $206 billion by 2030. but the human element of the metaverse has so far been relatively unexplored. Research by Momentum Worldwide, in partnership with the American Association of Advertising Agencies, is trying to change that and looks at how consumers feel about expressing themselves in virtual worlds.
The free white paper reveals that 80% of consumers feel more included within the metaverse than in real life and 79% say their friends in the metaverse accept them for themselves as opposed to their appearance.
“This work will become essential data for every brand and creative business hoping to design, build and participate meaningfully in the metaverse,” explained Chick Foxgrover, executive vice president, creative technology & innovation at the 4A’s.
The “accidentals” and the “intentionals”
The study of more than 4,500 consumers across seven countries, including the US, found two distinct metaverse user groups:
- The accidentals – people who are inadvertently using the metaverse through gaming platforms such as Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite.
- The intentionals – people specifically seeking metaverse experiences.
To connect with both these groups, the paper advises that marketers to focus on three metaverse pillars: inspiration, self-expression and connection.
Both accidentals and intentionals felt significantly happier after visiting the metaverse, the report says, with the former using virtual places to be inspired by others and find creative expression. Intentionals are using the metaverse for personal development, to gain skills and to make money.
One in five metaverse users describe themselves as introverts and 78% of accidentals and 84% of intentionals feel more able to be their true selves within its platforms.
Some 79% of intentionals say they find it easier to make friends in the metaverse than in real life, while 51% of accidentals socialize in the metaverse with their real-life friends and family.
What does this mean for marketers?
“Understanding what consumers want from the metaverse, their behaviors and motivations to fulfill happiness, find escapism and seek inclusion are vital for guiding how brands and businesses should behave,” says Jason Alan Snyder, global chief technology officer, Momentum Worldwide.
The study shows consumers who are already using the metaverse feel freer to express themselves and feel more accepted than they do in real life. Both accidental and intentional users are finding moments of connection and inspiration within virtual worlds.
Marketers who help to shape inclusive worlds within the metaverse where consumers can express their individuality and develop virtual identities will no doubt experience success.
“One particularly interesting area is the relationship between identity and personality,” Snyder said, noting, “Brands are learning that identity and personality are two different things and not always interlinked.”
The concept of different identities within virtual worlds is also explored in this Fast Company article by Adobe designer Brooke Hopper, who advises marketers to help consumers express their identities.
“Identity will play a key role in how people experience the metaverse. With new options to decorate personal VR spaces, avatars and more, there will be an increased need to generate content for these experiences and allow users to build unique digital identities,” Hopper writes.
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